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David Li
November 29th, 2016 · 3 min read

I had the pleasure of spending a wonderful weekend in Montreal.

To everyone I saw: thank you. It was lovely seeing some beautiful faces, and I treasured the moments we spent together. Especially to those with papers and finals coming soon: thank you for your small sacrifice.

I managed to (almost) see everyone, and even a special someone from the states.

I’m very glad that this happened - it was so nice catching up, hearing everyone’s stories - and it was so nice being inspired to do better.

Going back however, comes with the heavy realization that nothing will ever be the same.

I chose not to walk past my old apartment (or much in the Milton-Parc community at all), but that had been a place of so much happiness. I’d hate to see it as it is now, darker, lonelier, emptier.

We’ve all moved on with our lives, and the places we leave behind change.

I had the opportunity to spend time with both the people I love, and many of the places that I had once been. I’m glad to have experienced it - but it doesn’t feel the same anymore. I’ve changed, and in many ways even in the few short months since graduation.

I still look back with fondness, but knowing that my memories will forever be filtered with rose-tinted glasses.

All this comes with the acceptance that nothing will ever quite be the same. You can get the drinks with the same people, in the same bar, but somehow things are different. Personalities change, maybe things don’t click quite as well as before. Experiences change, and we don’t go through the same things anymore. Even the conversation topics change - from talking about girls, parties and games to life crises and uncertain futures.

The locations aren’t quite the same anymore either - the haunts we used to frequent have changed. Alto’s, the classic late night afterparty (or after-study) restaurant, has closed. My old home sits empty - there’ll be no more weekly dinners, random card nights, or parties. The baristas at El Mundo, my classic study spot, are no longer there. And the bartenders at Gert’s don’t have the same jokes.

Not that it’s all bad - we’re more mature, stronger, more well-rounded people. We grow, we gain experiences, we become older. Sure, things change, but some things change for the better.

Some people drift out of life too. It’s hard to expect everyone to stay. Some are out in new cities, living new lives. Others slowly fade away, until these former connections are nothing but a memory. Some were good, maybe great, friends, but now we have nothing.

One last group

When I was small, I had a dream that I would be rich, and I could buy every house in a neighborhood and sponsor all my friends to stay together. We’d play together, chill together, go to the local cafe/restaurant (modern addition: bar) together. Our kids would all grow up together.

Clearly an impossible dream now, when even close friends and friend-groups, and relationships, inevitably drift apart. But its not because anyone’s a bad person, or is intending to break these bridges. Sometimes life just takes us in different directions.

When we see each other again, it’s almost like nothing’s changed. We can pick it up right where we left off. And for a day or two, it seems like it’s only been a moment left off in friendship.

But deeper, we know that things are different now. We’re different people, different lives, different dreams. It’s not good or evil, just life.

And I’ll always remember the great times we’ve had.

Nonetheless, it was really nice seeing everyone and everything. They’re mostly fond memories, of dinners and laughter, of coffees and instas, and of adventures. And seeing everyone has allowed me to relive my McGill experience at least a little bit. Sure, it brings back some sadness - that things are changed and gone - but I am so so glad to have experienced them, especially this one more time.

It’s also a reinforcement that, although some things are ephremal, others are not. I know that distance and time may separate us, but we’re still friends. We will still be there for one another.

Going back is also an opportunity for reflection - to see exactly how you’ve grown and changed.

I’m not exactly glad to be in Waterloo - I miss the people that used to be in my life - their company, their inspiration, their moments, but it’s nice to be moving forward.

I look forward to the next time, when I’ll see you again.

With love.

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